(This article is about the castle itself, and the early history of the Kilmahew lands. For buildings and other features from the Victorian era and later, see the last paragraph.)
The near side, the eastern wall of the castle, is rather blank. In the rebuilt southern wall, a small arched entrance is visible; above it is a larger window with a pointed arch, now bricked-up.
for a closer view of the southern entrance, and Link
for the projection, with opening, that lies beyond it. Click on the title of the end-note, below, for other views.
The land of Kilmahew was "the once fair domain of the Napiers. There is good reason for believing them to have been in possession of it as early as the close of the thirteenth century, and the last remnant of it did not pass out of their hands till the early part of the nineteenth century. The ruins of the castle, built partly, it is believed, by George Napier, still overlook the glen of Kilmahew, but its crumbling walls and roofless turrets ill accord with the quaint inscription over the door-way – 'The blessing of God be herein'" [Joseph Irving, in the second volume of "The Book of Dumbartonshire" (1879)].
The first association of the Napiers with the Kilmahew area is described in the same work, in its genealogy of the Napiers of Kilmahew: "John Napier had, from Malcolm, Earl of Lennox, a charter of the quarter land called Kylmethew, about the close of the thirteenth century".
A later charter granted John's son Duncan, "dominus de Kylmehew", lands of upper "Bullul" (Bonhill) and "Miltoun", where, even now, the name of Napierston Farm preserves their historical association with that area: NS3980 : Napierston Road
As noted above, Kilmahew Castle may be partly the work of George Maxwell Napier (died c.1744); however, his contribution would have been in making modifications to an existing structure, since the tower itself is considerably earlier.
[At present, no location provides a completely unobstructed view of Kilmahew Castle as a whole; the position from which this photo was taken appeared to be the best viewpoint.]
Other features in the Kilmahew Estate, such as Kilmahew House (see NS3578 : St Peter's College
) and its two associated lodges (see NS3577 : Remains of the South Lodge
and NS3478 : Remains of the West Lodge
), a stone footbridge over the Kilmahew Burn (NS3577 : Stone bridge in Kilmahew Estate
), a pool (NS3578 : Pool in Kilmahew Estate
), and numerous tracks, date from the Victorian area; see those links for further information.